Tag Archives: Collaboration

Updates from McKinsey

Taking supplier collaboration to the next level
Closer relationships between buyers and suppliers could create significant value and help supply chains become more resilient. New research sheds light on the ingredients for success.
By Agustin Gutierrez, Ashish Kothari, Carolina Mazuera, and Tobias Schoenherr – Companies with advanced procurement functions know that there are limits to the value they can generate by focusing purely on the price of the products and services they buy. These organizations understand that when buyers and suppliers are willing and able to cooperate, they can often find ways to unlock significant new sources of value that benefit them both

Buyers and suppliers can work together to develop innovative new products, for example, boosting revenues and profits for both parties. They can take an integrated approach to supply-chain optimization, redesigning their processes together to reduce waste and redundant effort, or jointly purchasing raw materials. Or they can collaborate in forecasting, planning, and capacity management—thereby improving service levels, mitigating risks, and strengthening the combined supply chain.

Earlier work has shown that supplier collaboration really does move the needle for companies that do it well. In one McKinsey survey of more than 100 large organizations in multiple sectors, companies that regularly collaborated with suppliers demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs, and greater profitability than their industry peers.

Despite the value at stake, however, the benefits of supplier collaboration have proved difficult to access. While many companies can point to individual examples of successful collaborations with suppliers, executives often tell us that they have struggled to integrate the approach into their overall procurement and supply-chain strategies.

Several factors make supplier collaboration challenging. Projects may require significant time and management effort before they generate value, leading companies to prioritize simpler, faster initiatives, even if they are worth less. Collaboration requires a change in mind-sets among buyers and suppliers, who may be used to more transactional or even adversarial relationships. And most collaborative efforts need intensive, cross-functional involvement from both sides, a marked change to the normal working methods at many companies. This change from a cost-based to a value-based way of thinking requires a paradigm shift that is often difficult to come by. more>


Collaborators in creation

Our world is a system, in which physical and social technologies co-evolve. How can we shape a process we don’t control?
By Doyne Farmer, Fotini Markopoulou, Eric Beinhocker and Steen Rasmussen – This is a disorienting time. Disagreements are deep, factions stubborn, the common reality crumbling. Technology is changing who we are and the society we live in at a blinding pace. How can we make sense out of these changes? How can we forge new tools to guide our future? What is our new identity in this changing world?

Social upheavals caused by new technologies have occurred throughout history.

Cultural institutions are also a kind of technology – a social technology. Just as physical technologies – agriculture, the wheel or computers – are tools for transforming matter, energy or information in pursuit of our goals, social technologies are tools for organizing people in pursuit of our goals. Laws, moral values and money are social technologies, as are ways of organizing an army, a religion, a government or a retail business.

While we are fascinated and sometimes frightened by the pace of evolution of physical technologies, we experience the evolution of social technologies differently. Our values, laws and political organizations define and shape our identities. We often regard those who use different social technologies – people from different cultures, regions, nations, religions or those with different values and beliefs – as ‘others’.

When social technologies change too quickly, we experience a loss of identity, a collective confusion about who we are and how we distinguish ourselves from others. But when social technologies change too slowly, this can create tensions too – for example, when political institutions fail to keep pace with wider changes in society.

Physical and social technologies co-evolve all the time, pushing and pulling on each other. The influence is in both directions. Physical and social technologies are so entangled that it can be hard to separate them.

What drives technological change? In many popular narratives, invention is an act performed by heroes such as Thomas Edison and Tim Berners-Lee. In reality, technological change comes about through an incremental process that involves a great deal of trial and error, and networks of people working in ecosystems of innovation. Technological change is an evolutionary process, very much like biological change is an evolutionary process. more>

It Takes a Village to Create Solid Electrolytes

By Kevin Clemens – Presently, commercial lithium ion batteries use a carbon graphite anode electrode and a metal oxide cathode electrode. They are separated by a liquid organic solvent that can pass lithium ions between the electrodes while preventing electrons from making the journey. The organic solvent of the electrolyte is flammable—resulting in a potential for a fire in the event that a lithium ion battery is punctured.

The anode side of a lithium ion battery is made from layers of graphite. Lithium ions are inserted between the material’s layers during charging and are released during discharge. Battery researchers realize that replacing the graphite anode with metallic lithium would allow many more lithium ions to flow during discharge, producing a battery with at least twice the capacity. But during the charging stage of a lithium metal battery, spiky crystalline structures, called dendrites, form on the metal surface. These dendrites can grow through the liquid electrolyte, reaching the cathode and shorting out the battery.

A worldwide search is on for a solid or semi-solid electrolyte that can prevent dendrite growth while allowing the easy passage of lithium ions without conducting electrons. more>

Updates from GE

Meet GE’s Brangelina: For These Two Moms, Job-Sharing Was The Ultimate Power Move
By Amy Kover – Bobbi Eldrid and Lynda Kaufman have shared a job at GE Power since 1998. They knew each other casually as engineers in Schenectady, New York, where GE makes turbines and generators. When they discovered they were both expecting their first children, they began chatting about an age-old struggle. “We were asking ourselves, ‘How do you balance being a mom with having a challenging role and a fulfilling career path?’” Eldrid says.

These two women take their collaborative skills a step further, expertly juggling what may be the longest-running work-share partnership in GE’s history. The colleagues handle every decision, customer interaction and contractual obligation as a single project-management entity — with Eldrid in her office in upstate New York and Kaufman 900 miles away in South Carolina. For 20 years, they’ve split their workweek evenly.

What they came up with was deceptively simple: Both women put in 24 hours per week. The week begins on Sunday evening when the women hold a standing 2-hour phone call to go over their projects. Then Eldrid works Monday through Wednesday, and Kaufman works Wednesday through Friday. The overlapping of their schedules on Wednesdays allows them to collaborate and switch reins seamlessly. more>

How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth


Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth, Author: Peter Turchin.

By Cameron K. Murray – Turchin estimates that the total quantity of hours of human work and toil dedicated by the global workforce involved in the mammoth cooperative task of building the space station is around three-million people-years, or over 26 billion work hours.

The obvious next question is how this compares with the other great cooperative feats of history, like the 400,000 people-years required to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, or the 100,000 people years to build the Coliseum in Rome, and whether these long run patterns signal an increase in humanity’s ability to cooperate at a vast scale.

One of Turchin’s big ideas in the book, is that war between social groups is the mechanism by which cooperative behaviour develops “within groups.”

It is a fundamental evolutionary process happening between societies at a large scale. He elevates war as a selection mechanism for cooperation, and values it above many of the technological factors like domestication of plants and the advent of agriculture. more> http://goo.gl/lHekmS

Collaborative Overload

By Rob CrossReb Rebele and Adam Grant – Collaboration is taking over the workplace.

According to data we have collected over the past two decades, the time spent by managers and employees in collaborative activities has ballooned by 50% or more.

How much time do people spend in meetings, on the phone, and responding to e-mails At many companies the proportion hovers around 80%, leaving employees little time for all the critical work they must complete on their own.

What’s more, research we’ve done across more than 300 organizations shows that the distribution of collaborative work is often extremely lopsided.

In most cases, 20% to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees.

Soon helpful employees become institutional bottlenecks: Work doesn’t progress until they’ve weighed in. Worse, they are so overtaxed that they’re no longer personally effective.

And more often than not, the volume and diversity of work they do to benefit others goes unnoticed, because the requests are coming from other units, varied offices, or even multiple companies. more> https://goo.gl/yLn3DL

Technology Alone Won’t Solve Our Collaboration Problems

By Mark Mortensen – A system only works if employees are socialized to look to it for information and keep that data current.

In putting in a KMS (knowledge management system), or switching to a new one, it’s less important which technology you choose and more important that you align it with how people do work.

Too often, a new KMS often conflicts with the way that employees currently use informal networks to seek and provide information. more> http://tinyurl.com/q797dqu

What Does It Really Take to Get Things Done?

By John Kamensky – “The steps typically consist of translating strategy into objectives, cascading those objectives down the hierarchy, measuring progress, and rewarding performance.”

The researchers also found that the failure to collaborate across organizational boundaries led to conflicts, which were “handled badly two times out of three.” more> http://tinyurl.com/o8cwfrw

The 12 Habits Of Highly Collaborative Organizations

By Jacob Morgan – Collaboration is indeed a top priority for many business leaders but knowing what makes organizations successful can be a tricky thing.

Strategy before technology
Before rushing to pick that shiny new collaboration platform focus on developing a strategy which will help you understand the “why” before the “how.” This is crucial for the success of any collaboration initiative. You don’t want to be in a position where you have deployed a technology without understanding why. more> http://tinyurl.com/lk4x3tr


Scaling up cross-sector collaboration: what are the challenges?

By Darian Stibbe – Despite a growing tapestry of collaborative action, much of it successful, the use of partnerships remains highly sporadic. Most partnerships are isolated, the quality and effectiveness of many are limited and, despite their increasing use, we are still only scratching at the surface compared with the scale of global challenges. The rhetoric on collaboration is light years ahead of the implementation and impact of partnerships.

One challenge is that despite a widespread acceptance at international level, there is often reticence and suspicion in country. This is exacerbated by an overuse of the word partnership itself, with differences in its understanding and meaning. more> http://tinyurl.com/klvv7zx